Ahoi Ashtami falls on the eighth day of Krishna Paksha of the Hindu calendar’s Kartik month. Women, on this day, fast and pray for the welfare and long life of their kids. They draw a cub and pray before it. Prayers are offered to the Maa Ahoi Bhagawati.
It is a day that shows us why respecting and loving animals is important. It shows how exactly Karma strikes if you harm other creatures and why cows hold a supreme presence in the animal kingdom. The World’s Oldest Surviving Religion, Hinduism, shows us, via this festival, why you MUST not kill animals.
Origin of Ahoi Ashtami
Once upon a time, there lived an incredibly rich king. He lived with his wife. However, as the old notion goes – money doesn’t buy happiness. They weren’t content since they didn’t have kids. Their kids would die within days of being born every time they tried. One day in the month of Kartik, just a few days before Diwali festivities, they chose to end their lives. Unable to tolerate grief, they decide to commit suicide at a final pilgrimage site. They start walking towards their death when Bhagwati herself comes to talk to them.
She reveals to the couple why exactly they couldn’t have kids. It was Karma – The couple, when they were young, had killed animals while trying to fetch wood from the forest to build their house. So, Karma came across and stopped their house from becoming a home. It became a lonely childless place.
After revealing the reason, Maa Ahoi requests them to go back, serve Maa cow (mother cow), feed cows religiously and pray.
They follow the supreme command. When the day of Ashtami came, the wife drew the face of young animals, observed fast, fed cows, and performed Maa Ahoi vrat (fast). Husband started a shelter home for cows. They honestly repented for the sin which they had committed. Maa Ahoi was pleased with their devotion and honesty and appeared before them and gave them the boon of fertility.
Practices/Rituals on Ahoi Ashtami
On the day of vrat, after taking a morning bath, women take a pledge, called Sankalp, to keep the fast for their children’s well-being. It is also recited during Sankalp that the fasting would be without any food or water, and the fast would be broken after sighting the stars or the moon according to their family tradition.
When women who do not have kids fast and perform all prayers and rituals of Ahoi Ashtami, it is called Krishnashtami after Bhagwan Krishna. On this day, such women who wish for a baby take a bath in Radha Kund, in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, at Arunodaya, which is before sunrise. Mata Kushmanda is worshiped, for this purpose.